With its impressively high smoke point and mild taste, this oil is a kitchen workhorse.

By Lynn Andriani
March 29, 2019
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Despite its puzzling name (we'll get to that later), safflower oil is one of the most straightforward, useful ingredients you can keep in your pantry. It's perfect for everything from sautéing and deep frying to baking and whisking into a salad dressing. Plus, it's inexpensive and easy to find in supermarkets. Interested yet? We thought so.

Safflower oil is made from the seeds of the safflower plant, which, though less familiar, is related to the sunflower. The plant itself is a flowering annual, with blooms that look a bit like yellow thistles. The oil manufacturers extract from the safflower plant has an unassertive taste and a neutral aroma, which makes it ideal for when you don't want a pronounced flavor from an oil in a recipe (hello, chocolate cake). Its mildness also makes it a great base for salad dressings, especially if you're adding intensely flavored ingredients such as Dijon mustard or citrus juice, as well as herbs and spices, such as cilantro, cumin, or oregano.

The easy flavor of safflower oil isn't the only thing it has going for it, though. This oil's smoke point-otherwise known as the temperature at which it begins to break down-is a super-high 510 degrees. Making twice-fried French fries? Safflower oil is perfect. The same goes for latkes, sweet potato fries, falafel, fried chicken, and other deep-fried indulgences; they'll get nice and crispy in safflower oil, without taking on any acrid or burnt taste.

When shopping, look for refined high-heat safflower oil, and check the expiration date. As with most oils, stow safflower oil in the pantry (not near the stove) to protect it from heat and sunlight. It keeps for several months-if you don't use it up before then.

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